|Resources||Iron, Stained Glass|
|Religion||Sapha Rasta, Mugerkhal|
Keystone, named for its mountains, and formerly known as Daksin Lasha, is a region in the Mighty Euge Terrible Alliance of Lanteroc.
The Keystone mountains are a key section of a much larger mountain range stretching roughly north and south along the western continent. The Tzaltec call it the Earth Spine. Along the border with Axiquahitl, they soar so high, their peaks are often lost in the clouds. Farther north, along the border with Oztotla, they are shorter, but no less jagged. The region gets its name because it is the east/west border for water and weather. The western peaks block the weather and make the western slopes home to the redwood forests and their guardian predator fungus. On the eastern slope, barren sandy deserts with a few palm and juniper plants are all that grows. This region is called the Foresaken Lands.
Alpaca and mountain camel are common. Small rodents with exquisite fur also are common. Raptors in wide variety soar on the mountain thermals, On the eastern slopes, desert hare, snake, and a plethora of insects make their home. The mountains also contain the deadly razor-goats; a species of mountain goat evolved into a predator of alpaca and camel. They use their horns to knock their prey off their feet, then use their tiny, razor sharp rows of teeth to dispatch them.
There are three terrain features of prominence:
Located on the border of Axquahitl, Oztotla, and Keystone is a miles-wide region where numerous small streams converge into a series of pools and waterfalls, known as the Dappled Cataracts. Dissolved minerals make these streams have varying colors in all hues of the rainbow. The waters cascade together until the plunge over the Wall of the West almost a thousand feet below. The water then breaks up into multiple rivers spreading out across the western lands. Many small villages dot this region, with the people subsiting on local fish.
The eastern slope of the mountains is called the Foresaken Lands for a reason. It is difficult to traverse, impossible for those without preparation and knowledge. The Verdant Field is one of a few oasis available, and the only one of any size. Encompassing several dozen acres of tall palm and rich grass, it holds no less than a dozen wells tapping into an underground spring. Its location is jealously guarded by those that traverse the Foresaken Lands. A large fortified caravanserai guards it.
In the very far east of the land, the Keystone region bulges out between Kapital and the Thumping Plains. This is a large plateau of land, upon which sits the City of Brass. The plateau has been carved into multiple terraces for farming. The City itself lies at the center. Aptly named, the buildings are wood framed and brass covered. There are four walls in concentric cirles surrounding a spring-fed lake which has been turned into canals and flow-ways feeding the entire area. The walls are also shod in Brass. Seven gatehouses in the outer walls contain seven gates of solid brass, intricately carved. It stands as the capital of the region.
The original inhabitants of the area are a near-human species called the Monto. They were largely a peaceful people living in a region undisturbed by the world and separated by geography before the arrival of the Saroc. The region is called the Keystone Mountains also because it contains two passes into Axuahitl and three down into Oztotla. Without these passes, it was hundreds, if not thousands, of miles around the Spine of the World.
The Monto were average height and overall human appearance, save for their green skin and orange hair and eyes. Normal vairiation in shades run from almost red to almost brown for both hair and eyes. Hairstyle is also a sign of wealth. The more hair, the more time needed to groom. The poor can’t afford the time, so they are bald, while the rich wear long hair covered in ornate turbans.
Monto society favored the traders and artisans over the miners and farmers. Clothing and mode of travel denoted wealth and status. The poor walked and were nearly naked. The middle classes rode camels and homespun cloth. The wealthy were draped in rich, thick fabrics and carried on litters by the poor. Jewelry and gems were greatly prized as portable signs of wealth. Station and livelihood was directly linked to trading ability, with those that fail to live up to their reputations punished harshly.
This region is also named the Keystone Mountains because it is one of the few places where you can cross the earth spine in that portion of the world. Two passes lead down into Axuahitl, and three into Oztotla. This was of little concern for decades, as the natives of those reasons were shy and pacifistic. This changed when Tzalteclan occupied these areas. The Monto spent fifty years fortifying the passes to the west, in preparation for an invasion.
The sudden assault of orcish tribes from the south caught them completely unaware. In less than a decade, the entire region was subjugated. The Monto leadership attempted to find support in Tzalteclan and Guilder, but was largely left to fend for themselves. Now, the two groups live in uneasy peace. The orcs are militaristic, the Monto are trade focused. The pair might work well together if not for the intense divide between them.
The mountains have rich deposits of iron. The iron veins are heavily polluted with other minerals, requiring extensive working to purify. These impurities provide elements needed to make their second export.
The desert sands of the Foresaken Lands and the trees of the highlands provide ample raw materials for stained glass. The mineral impurities from the iron works provide the minerals to produce glass in a kaleidoscope of colors. The City of Brass is the epicenter for these artisans. The City is wildly decorated with mural windows.
The traders want for very little and tightly control the precious food and water resources. They prize luxury items, such as the fine crafted goods of Hrathan-Tuor, silken clothing, and crafted jewelry. In most cultures, this would be mere opulence. But this is a society that rewards your ability to possess something that others cannot. People have killed and died for rare and exotic items.